It’s never a good sign for an artist’s career when you can get $25 tickets (plus Evil Fees, of course) for a concert at the Staples Center 2 days before the show. In the case of Cyndi Lauper and Cher, it may also be indicative of the fact that the tickets went on sale in something like October. Now, I’m all for advance planning, and I understand that it helps the promoters figure out if they need to add extra show dates, but who can predict what they’ll be doing that far in the future? I’d crossed it off my list as too difficult to schedule & then completely forgot about it until a “don’t miss your chance!” email arrived just a few days prior to the event. The tone of desperation made me take another look, and given my great love of cheese, it seemed like it would be a pity to miss it at that price.
Arriving at the venue, I cracked up when I saw the sidewalk was emblazoned with ads for an upcoming event: “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular: They’re Back!” Seemed a fitting welcome for legends from the last century. Mean? Perhaps, but still funny.
One glance at the line confirmed what I’d suspected: this was an evening that was as much about fashion as about music. Sparkling body suits, rhinestone-studded 4-inch heels, glittery tank tops – and that was just the men. Since I hadn’t anticipated ending up at the concert, I was dressed like I’d spent the day going to the dentist and cleaning out the garage, which I had. Let’s just say I didn’t quite fit in – next time, I’ll invest in a bedazzler. The audience was full of lots of “girls’ night out” groups, guys on dates, and people who were accompanying their aging parents. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were also swaths of empty seats. Even Cyndi Lauper commented on it, saying it was the emptiest she’d ever seen. The guys next to me expressed their shock: “How is this possible? It’s *Cher*!” We had to abandon a plan to sneak down to a lower tier, but we clearly should have carried through with it.
As for the show itself? It was a hoot. The ladies wore huge wigs, sang their biggest hits, and took long pauses between numbers to tell lengthy, crowd-pleasing anecdotes (and, in Cher’s case, to do elaborate costume changes). Both still had strong voices. They knew their audience & were happy to ham it up. This was also a crowd where Cyndi Lauper’s reference to Prop 8 sucking got an even bigger cheer than her Kings jersey. It was a feel-good evening.
Cyndi’s “She’s So Unusual” album was one of the first that I remember being aware of as an actual *album*, not just a song or two on the radio, so the whole set was a massive flashback to the days when I’d sit by the radio with my cassette recorder so I could try to record my favorite songs for later. She was pretty much exactly how you would expect: belting out hits while wearing a wild outfit and a huge red wig, then rolling around on the stage, constantly dropping F-bombs, and just generally seeming like someone who would be great fun to hang out with. Fans twirled glowsticks and bathed in the light of her disco ball. Cyndi also embarked on a love-fest, talking about how she met Cher because their moms had become friends, giving raspy-voiced impressions of Harvey Fierstein, and telling the crowd how great they were.
Cher, by contrast, was in full diva mode. Or, rather – icon mode. As she described herself, “I used to be a diva, but then I graduated.” She constantly poked fun at her age, referring to the AARP, talking about how soon she’d be “taking a dirt nap,” and following up on one outlandish production number by saying “What’s *your* granny doing tonight?” Considering that my grandma was most likely watching baseball and talking about her digestion, you have to concede her point. The overall set could be described as “Cher Through The Ages.” She went through most of her hits roughly chronologically as a video montage on a massive screen behind her showed us Sonny-era Cher, Bob Mackie Oscar dress Cher, actress Cher, and of course the infamous “Turn Back Time” outfit that she proudly announced she still could – and did – wear.
Long pauses in the set featured Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics and dancing so that Cher could switch from one over-the-top outfit to the next: massive Vegas showgirl headdresses, bordello fashion, a floor-length “native headdress,” the ass-tacular variation on the “Turn Back Time” outfit, and more. She also inexplicably popped out of a massive golden Trojan horse. Her final look was Cher-as-Virgin-Mary, complete with a dinner-plate-sized halo, which hysterically came on the heels of another look that consisted of strategically placed strings of rhinestones and pink heart pasties. In her Holy Finale, she also played into this concert season’s hottest trend for female soloists: flying across the arena. Unlike Pink! and Beyonce, though, she sailed over the audience in her own spangled gothic arch. Subtle it was not. The show could have done with fewer ramblings about her love/hate relationship with Dr. Pepper and a lot more dancing in the audience, but it was overall one of the most entertaining concerts I’ve seen this year.